- posted: Aug. 30, 2022
- Estate Planning
When a person is no longer able to manage his or her assets because of a disability or other infirmity, a family member or friend may have to step into that role. If the person executed a power of attorney or created a living trust before they became incapacitated, those documents can allow an agent or successor trustee to step into place and manage the person’s finances. Without these documents in place, however, a court proceeding may be required in order to have someone authorized to take care of the person’s assets and finances.
In Arizona, the Probate Division of the Superior Court has the authority to appoint a conservator for a person’s estate if both of the following are established:
- The person is unable to manage their estate and affairs effectively for reasons such as mental illness, mental deficiency, mental disorder, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, confinement, detention by a foreign power or disappearance.
- The person has property that will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided, and protection is necessary or desirable for funds needed for the support, care and welfare of the person or those entitled to be supported by the person.
To protect senior citizens and people with disabilities from abuse or overreaching by relatives, Arizona statutes mandate that certain procedures be followed before a conservator will be appointed. Notice of the proceeding must be given to the disabled person, who is entitled to a retained or appointed legal counsel. The court usually orders a medical and/or psychological evaluation. Additionally, the court may appoint an investigator to make observations regarding the person’s condition. The process culminates in a hearing, at which the person who is the subject has the right to appear and, if they choose, to testify.
The court will also assess whether the proposed conservator is committed to acting in the protected person’s best interest and is capable of managing the person’s assets. If the court decides that the situation qualifies for the appointment of a conservator and that the proposed conservator is the right person for the job, it will enter an order of appointment. After that, the clerk of the court will issue “letters of appointment as conservator,” which is the document that authorizes the conservator to take action on the protected person’s behalf.
If you believe a family member requires a conservator for their protection, an experienced Arizona attorney can help you navigate the appointment process.
The Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC serves clients at every stage of life. Whether you are ready to create a comprehensive estate plan that will include provisions in case you become unable to handle your assets, or need help to manage your elderly loved ones’ assets, we are happy to represent you. Contact us online or call (480) 500-1866 for an initial phone consultation.